The top free agent in the race for Newark City Council is Donald Payne, Jr., a newly-elected Essex County Freeholder and the son of Congressman Donald Payne. Payne had initially agreed to run on a ticket with Mayor Sharpe James, but a week after filing his petitions, he announced that he would not slate up with James. With James out of the race, there is speculation that Payne will run on Cory Booker’s ticket — which could be interpreted as a huge wink and nod from the powerful Congressman. Booker already has the scion of a prominent Newark political family on his ticket: Ronald Rice, Jr., the son of mayoral candidate Ronald Rice, is running for a West Ward Council seat against a James loyalist, Councilwoman Mamie Bridgeforth. Rice Jr. is supporting Booker, not his father — as he did in 2002, when he ran a strong race for City Councilman At-Large on the Booker slate. The third famous name in the race is John Sharpe James, the son of the outgoing Mayor, who is running for City Council in the South Ward. On the ballot as J. Sharpe James, he faces Booker Team candidate Oscar James, who is not related to the Mayor but was for many years his top advisor and campaign manager.